Russian media reports says that at least seventeen people, including 15 police officers, were killed by armed militants in Russia’s Dagestan Republic yesterday.    

Interfax, citing Dagestan law enforcement authorities, reports that gunmen opened fire on two Orthodox churches, a synagogue and a police post in Makhachkala and Derbent cities.

Dagestan’s Interior Ministry reportedly said a group of armed men shot at a synagogue and a church in the city of Derbent, located on the Caspian Sea. Both the church and the synagogue caught fire, according to state media.  Almost simultaneously, reports appeared about an attack on a church and a traffic police post in the Dagestan capital, Makhachkala.

Authorities announced a counter-terrorist operation in the region.  The Anti-Terrorist Committee said five gunmen were “eliminated.”  Dagestan Governor Sergei Melikov said six “bandits” had been “liquidated.”  

Meanwhile, the Associated Press (AP) reports that Dagestan Governor Sergei Melikov said a video statement today morning that more than 15 police officers and several civilians, including an Orthodox priest, were killed by armed militants in Dagestan on Sunday. 

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee described the attacks in Dagestan as terrorist acts.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were declared days of mourning in the republic. 

The Office of Russia’s Investigative Committee in Dagestan has instituted criminal proceedings under the provisions of Article 205 of Russia’s Penal Code -- terrorist attack; an investigation is under way.